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Author Topic: Plane crash victims die before hitting the ground
snopes
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Comment: I have been trying to find information on this rumor on the
internet but I can't find anything. Recently someone told me that if a
plane crashes that one would die before the plane would ever hit the
ground. The explanation for this was explained to me because the velocity
that the plane is moving at makes the brain turn into a sort of mush that
then oozes out of the skull. The oxygen masks were then told to me to not
be for purposes of giving the passengers more oxygen but to make the
people high so they don't feel the pain of their brains turning to mush. I
immediatly thought that this story was false because people have heard of
survivors from plane crashes. But the problem is that i can't find any
sort of information on it. Any leads/answers?

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Em
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The (admittedly rare) survivors of plane crashes would probably disagree.

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mags
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Well, considering nearly all airliner crashes occur at either take-off or landing, the velocity isn't that fast.

And why would the velocities turn the brain to mush as the plane is falling ("die before the plane ever hit the ground") when they don't when the plane is just cruising at those speeds?

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Em
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Velocity itself isn't a force which would "make the brain turn into a sort of mush", you would need acceleration to do that.

According to this site, up to 12.5Gs (approx 122.6m/s2) is considered acceptable for humans, presumably without causing any brain mush. A plane falling under no power in the Earths gravitational field will reach a maximum of 1G (9.81m/s2), neglecting air resistance.

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What the NFBSK does YOMANK mean?

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Psihala
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quote:
The oxygen masks were then told to me to not be for purposes of giving the passengers more oxygen but to make the people high so they don't feel the pain of their brains turning to mush.
Now there's an idea: add nitrous oxide to the oxygen system so the passengers really won't care if their brains turn to mush.

~Psihala
(*I'm flying so hiiiiggghhh! Wheeeee!)

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Ganzfeld
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quote:
Originally posted by Em:
Velocity itself isn't a force which would "make the brain turn into a sort of mush", you would need acceleration to do that.

More concisely, velocity is not a force.
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Em
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Very true.

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What the NFBSK does YOMANK mean?

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Troberg
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This is so wrong from the beginning to the end that I really don't know how to start. There is not a single statement in that claim that makes any sense, logically, scientifically or in any other way.

Other people has pointed out the main problems, so I'll just say that I agree with them.

quote:
The (admittedly rare) survivors of plane crashes
That is a common misconception, your chances of survival in a plane crash is actually not that bad. I suspect this misconception comes from the media habit of giving coverage based on the number of deaths. A crash with few casualties is not as interesting as a big disaster, so the first crash recives a small notice, while the disaster can be regurgitated forever, as well as be used for spin offs such as "Place the blame", "Why wasn't it prevented", "Tragedy stories about the victims" and "I got a vision and took another flight".

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/Troberg

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Drainfluid
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The space shuttle leaves and enters the Earth's atmosphere at far higher speeds than a commercial airliner flies, and none of the astronauts seem to have liquefied brains.
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Midgard_Dragon
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To be fair, someone with no major scientific knowledge or knowledge of how airplanes work could easily believe this rumor without taking any wild leaps of logic. Those types of people probably make up more than half of humanity.

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jimmy101
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quote:
Originally posted by Drainfluid:
The space shuttle leaves and enters the Earth's atmosphere at far higher speeds than a commercial airliner flies, and none of the astronauts seem to have liquefied brains.

And, when the shuttle Challenger exploded (while moving much faster than a commercial airliner) the crew was apparently still alive until they hit the water.

People are very rarely killed in aviation by anything other than a "bad landing".

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Aptenodytes_Forsteriis
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Admittedly I am not an aerospace engineer, but a standard jet passenger plane cruises at 550 mph; I don't think they drop anything like that fast when they have an engine failure or otherwise crash. To do so would involve the pilot pointing the plane at the ground and advancing the throttle. So why would brains turn to mush from the velocity/acceleration of dropping from the sky, when they don't from climbing or cruising? Its the ground what does the mushifying.

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Giant Communist Robot
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quote:
one would die before the plane would ever hit the
ground. The explanation for this was explained to me because the velocity
that the plane is moving at makes the brain turn into a sort of mush

Before the plane hits the ground? So its moving through the air, and suddenly your brain turns to mush? Be sensible!
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Four Kitties
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I believe the most reasonable explanation is that the writer of the comment's brain has turned to mush.

Four Kitties

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BoKu
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quote:
Originally posted by snopes:
...The oxygen masks were then told to me to not be for purposes of giving the passengers more oxygen but to make the people high so they don't feel the pain of their brains turning to mush...

Ah, the Fight Club thing. BTDT.
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Singing in the Drizzle
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This is some what true if the conditions are right, but not the brain turn it mush. At least from what I have read about some airplane crashes/accedents.

If the airplane is traveling over something like 400mph. Its been a long time and I do not remember the exact speed, but it was below most commercal cruse speeds. If the a passanger is quickly exsposed to the full force of the air moving outside the airplane. This can happen when the airplane suffers some sort of explosive deconpression and people are thrown out. Door blowing out, sidewall ripping away or the plane breaking in half. Hitting the air that fast will at least knock you unconscious and may even brake you neck if conditions are right.

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Dancing Dragon
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I heard a similar tale about how people who commit suicide by jumping from high places don't really die from the impact...they die of heart attacks on the way down.

Of course, the person telling me this used it to lead into a story about a man who decided his Jack Russell terrier wouldn't want to live without him and jumped off a high bridge with the dog in his arms. That guy didn't die of a heart attack...he died of 147 dog bites.

Sounds pretty ULish to me.

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Lainie
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quote:
Originally posted by Four Kitties:
I believe the most reasonable explanation is that the writer of the comment's brain has turned to mush.

Four Kitties

How painful that must have been. I hope he had some nitrous oxide first.

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Chimera
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As a former skydiver I have jumped from several planes (on average 2 miles up) and, to the best of my knowledge, I'm not dead. I didn't have any puffy suits either. I always wore an ugly purple thing that is closer to a dive skin (a really tight thingy). It has small red (inch or so) runners on the arms and legs but I don't think they slow me down. It also has golden dragon designs on it... surprisingly no one has ever kicked my dorky ass. I wear the thing because I'm far more afraid of an abrupt stop at the end than the fall itself. I want to keep all my parts together if my other equipment fails (it'll make it easier to burry my dumb ass). But its not so surprising that my brain hasn't exploded... yet. And as others have mentioned the shuttle puts far more force on its passengers and people do occasionally survive plane crashes. Just from my own personal experiences and knowledge I wouldn't buy the OP even if it were just $19.99 plus S&H.

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Silas Sparkhammer
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quote:
Originally posted by Dancing Dragon:
. . . story about a man who decided his Jack Russell terrier wouldn't want to live without him and jumped off a high bridge with the dog in his arms. That guy didn't die of a heart attack...he died of 147 dog bites.

Probably isn't true...how could you count that many bites exactly?...surely they'd all merge into each other...but...in a grim way...that's the funniest thing I've heard in weeks!

ULs don't have to be true...just repeatable!

Silas

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Doug4.7
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quote:
Originally posted by Drainfluid:
The space shuttle leaves and enters the Earth's atmosphere at far higher speeds than a commercial airliner flies, and none of the astronauts seem to have liquefied brains.

Uh, have you ever TALKED to an astronaut? [Wink]

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Deansinger
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I can see how, if cabin pressure were lost, there might be some physiological issues to face. I know that high altitude mountain climbers suffer risks of cerebral edema (could be construed as brain tutning to much, in a stretch). Still, I doubt that the phenomenon doesn't happen with any frequency in airliners. Even among the climbers, it usually takes some comparitively long term exposure to the high altitude to cause cerebral edema, and even then, it's often releived by simply removing to lower altitude.

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Oceanic Aura
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quote:
Originally posted by Psihala:
quote:
The oxygen masks were then told to me to not be for purposes of giving the passengers more oxygen but to make the people high so they don't feel the pain of their brains turning to mush.
Now there's an idea: add nitrous oxide to the oxygen system so the passengers really won't care if their brains turn to mush.

~Psihala
(*I'm flying so hiiiiggghhh! Wheeeee!)

In all reality, that's not a bad idea at all. I'd much rather go out high as kite, than in a fiery blaze of agony and sorrow. Well, the fiery blaze will still be there, I just wouldn't care so much.

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Singing in the Drizzle
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Also remember that if the cabin does depressrise at curse altitude of 35k feet or more. You will quickly become pass out from lack of oxygen if you do not put the mask on. You can then die from the lack of oxygen if the cold does not kill you are the plane crashing does not do it first.
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CheseJRS
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This question needs some qualification because there are several types of accidents with aircraft. Most accidents occur on takeoff and landings and thus speeds are not as high compared to cruise. Cause of death tends to be trauma to the head and chest. Fortunately the trauma wouldnt last very long for it would be almost instantaneous. The force of air against a person is not so intense as to be obviously fatal. Oxygen deprivation is a bigger problem at altitude and this is why airplanes are pressurized.

Essentially, unless you have a massive break up of an airplane in cruise, you will have a cause of death for most people to be massive trauma to the head and chest, if they are in less than a few pieces to begin with.

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Llewtrah
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I watched a documentary that explained how plane crashes kill and it depends on the type of plane crash. Most obvious is the sudden stop when the plane (and passengers) impact. But depressurisation, loose objects, oxygen starvation, toxic smoke, explosion damage etc can all kill depending on circumstances. If you get sucked out at very high altitude, oxygen starvation and thermal shock (i.e. you get quick frozen) will likely finish you off before the impact. Your brain might eventually end up somewhat mushy upon thawing or impact.

All sorts of nasty things happen to the body - blood vessels rupturing etc - when a plane is crashing, but what finally kills you depends on the whole crash scenario, not just on G forces.

I also used to date an aerospace engineer with an unhealthy knowledge of such things in both civil and military scenarios.

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abigsmurf
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wouldn't adding nitrous oxide to oxygen create an explosive mix?
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jimmy101
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quote:
Originally posted by abigsmurf:
wouldn't adding nitrous oxide to oxygen create an explosive mix?

Nitrous Oxide is an "oxidizer", just like oxygen. A mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen will not burn, you need a fuel source. A fuel source will burn more vigorously in the presence of nitrous oxide than air. Things burn very vigorously in pure oxygen, adding nitrous wouldn't change things much.
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Delta-V
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quote:
Originally posted by Singing in the Drizzle:
If the airplane is traveling over something like 400mph. Its been a long time and I do not remember the exact speed, but it was below most commercal cruse speeds. If the a passanger is quickly exsposed to the full force of the air moving outside the airplane. This can happen when the airplane suffers some sort of explosive deconpression and people are thrown out. Door blowing out, sidewall ripping away or the plane breaking in half. Hitting the air that fast will at least knock you unconscious and may even brake you neck if conditions are right.

IIRC, USAF ejection seats are rated up to 600kts. Granted, they do have a helmet on. A few people have even survived ejecting above Mach 1 - one F-15 pilot punched out at something like 780kts and 5000ft agl. An SR-71 pilot departed the aircraft at Mach 3 when it broke up in-flight (that was in very thin air, tho).

The only real case I can think of where you might be exposed to high g forces before actual impact would be if the aircraft entered a violent spin. In that case the forces could be high enough to make you lose conciousness. But not enough to 'mush' your brains.

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CheseJRS
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The ground will do the best job of mushing your brain in most fatal accidents.

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diddy
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Like the old saying goes, its not the fall that kills you , it's the sudden stop at the end.

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Bassist
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quote:
Originally posted by Singing in the Drizzle:
If the airplane is traveling over something like 400mph. Its been a long time and I do not remember the exact speed, but it was below most commercal cruse speeds. If the a passanger is quickly exsposed to the full force of the air moving outside the airplane. This can happen when the airplane suffers some sort of explosive deconpression and people are thrown out. Door blowing out, sidewall ripping away or the plane breaking in half. Hitting the air that fast will at least knock you unconscious and may even brake you neck if conditions are right.

According to this link, on a flight with 5 crew members and 89 passengers, an explosive decompression at 24,000 feet caused by an 18-foot section of the fuselage being torn off only resulted in the loss of one crewmember (a flight attendant who was sucked out through the gash) and injuries to 65 other people. Apparently the other 18 people were uninjured, and there were 93 survivors from the incident.

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Singing in the Drizzle
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quote:
Originally posted by Bassist:
quote:
Originally posted by Singing in the Drizzle:
If the airplane is traveling over something like 400mph. Its been a long time and I do not remember the exact speed, but it was below most commercal cruse speeds. If the a passanger is quickly exsposed to the full force of the air moving outside the airplane. This can happen when the airplane suffers some sort of explosive deconpression and people are thrown out. Door blowing out, sidewall ripping away or the plane breaking in half. Hitting the air that fast will at least knock you unconscious and may even brake you neck if conditions are right.

According to this link, on a flight with 5 crew members and 89 passengers, an explosive decompression at 24,000 feet caused by an 18-foot section of the fuselage being torn off only resulted in the loss of one crewmember (a flight attendant who was sucked out through the gash) and injuries to 65 other people. Apparently the other 18 people were uninjured, and there were 93 survivors from the incident.
Since most of the people were still protected from the full force of the air out side by the forward part of the fuselage, they were not subjected to the forces I was talking about. The crew member that was sucked out would have been exposed to this force.

I remember reading also that the air hitting you at that speed would rip most of your cloth off. This is one of the way to tell if a plane broke apart on the way down before crashing into the ground.

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Hero_Mike
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It's not a new belief that "speed kills" - when the first means of mechanized transport (trains) were starting to break the previous maximum speed achieved by "natural" means (I'm sure it involved horses), there was a common belief that a human travelling at such high speed would die. And I don't think it had anything to do with the ability to breathe while travelling at such high speed.

I'm pretty sure that even "experts" of the day agreed, as there was no proof to indicate otherwise. Today that has morphed into this tale where high velocity and high acceleration (not due to impact) are somehow deadly. Not true.

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Singing in the Drizzle
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by Hero_Mike:
I'm pretty sure that even "experts" of the day agreed, as there was no proof to indicate otherwise. Today that has morphed into this tale where high velocity and high acceleration (not due to impact) are somehow deadly. Not true.

Not quite true. Speed it self does not kill, but exposure to the environment around you at high speed can. Air hitting your body and 400 MPH becuase it exerts a resitance force against your bodies motion. This is one reason why you are inclosed inside an airplane and not out in the open. All that nasty fast moving air is keep outside the airplane were it exerts it forces against the skin and onto the structure. You are nice and safe in a slow moving bubble of air.

High acceleration is a short time will easy kill you as you mentioned, do to something like a impact. High acceleration over a longer period of time can still kill you, just not as fast. You may be able to easy survie 2Gs if you are in good health for some time, but how long will you live doing 6Gs or even more. If the force is not enough to brake bones, the heart is going to give out from the extra work or you passout and die from lack of oxygen to brain. Remember that force makes it harder to breath and pump blood.

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